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  Why Mitt Romney's Presidential Prospects May Not Be Salvageable
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ContributorHomegrown Democrat 
Last EditedHomegrown Democrat  Feb 20, 2012 06:18pm
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CategoryEditorial
AuthorWalter Shapiro
MediaWeekly News Magazine - New Republic, The
News DateMonday, February 20, 2012 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionTHE MITT ROMNEY CRISIS transcends the seven straight national polls showing Rick Santorum in the lead. It goes beyond the embarrassing reality that the son of an auto executive and two-term governor has been behind in every Michigan poll conducted since Groundhog’s Day. Even more devastating for Romney is that elite Republicans have begun to conclude that he cannot, if nominated, beat Barack Obama. About the only argument that still works for Romney among GOP insiders is that he would be less of a drag on the ticket than the strident Santorum or the mercurial Newt Gingrich.

With the exception of Mike Dukakis (what is it about governors of Massachusetts?), it is impossible to recall a top-tier presidential contender who aroused such little passion among the voters. Perhaps Bob Dole in 1996—but if the Bobster didn't inspire awe in Republican voters, he could at least count on their respect. Compared to Dole's status as a former vice-presidential nominee, Senate leader, and war hero, Romney's boasts about the 2002 Winter Olympics and his single term as governor suffer from transparent grade inflation.

Of course, other major presidential contenders have faced the political abyss and managed to rebound to win the nomination. But no one has ever quite faced Romney’s particular double whammy of problems: that he's not very well liked by voters while simultaneously being considered ideologically suspect by party activists. Romney can find plenty of precedents in recent presidential history, but none of them will provide much solace.
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